Unfortunately we are leaving the wonderful Torngat National Park and sailing north for four days ahead of us. Our target is Churchill on Hudson Bay.
On the second day, we are already sailing between the icebergs and an icy wind is blowing, this is pure Arctic scenery. This cold breeze reminds us of the crucial role the Arctic plays in cooling the Northern Hemisphere. However, this natural air conditioning no longer works as well as it used to, and we are already seeing the consequences in the stifling summer months we live in.
That’s why the feeling we have is bittersweet. Out of happiness for the privilege of viewing this stunning sight and sadness as we know that Arctic ice is endangered, and by 2035 the closest to what is happening now will have vanished in the most pessimistic forecasts. planet.
If we have common sense left, we should take the problem of global warming very seriously. The scientific community has warned for decades, but to date, our response as a society to address the problem has been very slow.
Since we set off weeks ago, we haven’t seen a single ship or plane as human activity in this remote location is almost zero. Then why is it necessary to protect it?
Establishing marine protected areas in frozen areas is crucial, as all forecasts indicate that new shipping routes, mining establishments, and oil exploitation will proliferate in the coming decades as ice gradually disappears… And it will come with them. more people, more towns and cities. Adding to the already serious effects, namely temperature rise, the scenario facing ecosystems and species is very worrying.
Personally, I believe we should protect arctic animals from the demand for them. Beluga, killer whale, walrus etc. The animal smuggling trade with captive polar species is about to be showcased in our cities. Neither education nor research justifies animal abuse.
The next day, we wake up in Churchill Bay, surrounded by dozens of white whales swimming around our boat in the brown waters of the bay. They find a safe place to breed in shallow waters and protect themselves from their main predators, killer whales. In this area of the Hudson, belugas are concentrated, attracted by large schools of capelin fish, which are their main food source. At dawn, we gaze from the pier, admiring the northern lights and belugas slumbering sleepily on the surface. This is one of the magical moments of the expedition.
Also, this town is known as the world capital of polar bears due to its density. And we were instructed to move only on the main streets and in groups of three or more. Churchill has become a destination for observation tourism of these animals. The local economy of nature tourism is sustained around bears and beluga whales.
Now on the Hudson we see a lot of bears dock on our boat in the water and swim around the hull. It is indeed incorrect to describe the polar bear as a terrestrial mammal, as it performs better in the sea than on land. They can spend a lot of time in the water and swim tens of kilometers and even dive. We came to see a group of three people in the middle of the sea, about 100 kilometers from the beach.
Our last stop on this part of the expedition is James Bay. A bay about 450 kilometers long and about 220 wide, located south of the Hudson and home to numerous islands.
There is almost no data on how this place became underwater. It is always exciting to have a sense of discovery, to dive into a place that has not been dived before. Since this bay was buried under glaciers and perpetual ice until about 8,000 years ago, we do not expect to find any living habitat.
Without light and at very low temperatures there are almost no options for marine life. At the end of the ice age, the frozen sea thawed, the waters separated, and the sun’s rays were able to penetrate the surface. Light and nutrients are the main factors that provide marine life. At this time of thaw came the Cree, the first humans to occupy this area.
We had a tough time at James Bay: with icy water and visibility of almost half a meter. At five metres, darkness is almost absolute. In addition, salinity is very low due to organic matter-laden meltwater and thousands of rivers and streams that cast an intense dark brown color into the bay. We need to look for an explanation for these conditions on the land where the boreal forest stretches, the second largest forest mass on the planet after the Amazon. The decomposition created by these forests gives way to large areas of peat bogs that accumulate organic matter. And it is discharged into the sea undisturbed by thousands of streams. Between the peatlands and permafrost, the Arctic stores four times more carbon than humans have released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial age. If this melted and was released into the atmosphere, we would face a massive and irreversible climate catastrophe.
Large organic carbon deposits are stored in James Bay and the peat bogs it contains. Protecting these areas and not releasing this carbon into the atmosphere is a priority that will seriously accelerate global warming.
The Arctic, the most fragile equilibrium. Establishing marine protected areas in frozen areas is essential to avoid an ecological disaster. 1 Difficult conditions for diving: waves, icy waters, almost zero visibility.